May 9, 2021 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Column: Nine-Bill Housing Package Derails Local Choices

By Tom Elias, Yo! Venice Columnist

The silver lining provided by some past pandemics has been that they opened minds, awakening entire nations and continents to what was wrong with the way things previously were.

So it was, for example, with the bubonic plague of the 1300s, also known as the “black death,” which produced labor shortages that started the demise of the feudal system, turning serfs into free people if they could reach the walled cities of the time.

But there is little evidence that California’s leading lawmakers have seen the many changes the coronavirus pandemic has wrought in California. No, even though COVID-19 has killed well over 8,400 Californians, current legislative leaders still pursue their old, pre-pandemic goals as if nothing were different.

That’s especially true in housing, where seismic change is about to occur as businesses increasingly abandon office towers, creating vast new vacant spaces that will inevitably become housing units. This will create the dense housing sought for years by the likes of Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener and fellow Democratic Sen. Toni Atkins of San Diego, the state Senate’s powerful president pro tem.

New and current reality, which sees office leasing around California at its lowest levels since the Great Recession, with more and more companies telling workers to operate from home, has not dented these folks’ thinking. They persist in fighting the last war, always a losing proposition for military leaders and often equally disastrous for politicians.

The best example of their thinking is a nine-bill package mostly sponsored by Wiener and Atkins, joined by other knee-jerk liberals like Berkeley’s Sen. Nancy Skinner and Assembly members Buffy Wicks of Oakland, Richard Bloom of Santa Monica, Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego and David Chiu of San Francisco.

As the Legislature sort-of returns from its second virus-induced recess of the year – a period when lawmakers ceded virtually all state authority to Gov. Gavin Newsom – the nine-bill housing package will start moving quickly through committees. It has backing from developers and labor unions, both major financial backers of many Democratic lawmakers.

Among other things, this package would effectively end single-family zoning in California, a longtime Wiener goal. It does this by allowing four market-priced homes on all lots that now have just one, with neither affordable units nor new parking spaces required. This alone could lead to wide disruption of residential neighborhoods if many homeowners take the wads of cash developers would soon proffer.

Another bill allows city councils to overturn laws passed by local voters which protect open-space on shorelines or other green areas. The package also allows cities to rezone any parcel they like to allow 10-unit apartment buildings, in spite of any prior restrictions. It decreases the amount of affordable housing developers must include in a project to get it expanded beyond current local limits, giving developers a 50 percent “density bonus” if they build more affordable units than now required.

And it allows tall apartment and condominium buildings wherever neighborhood businesses now exist. So much for city- or county-imposed height limits.

This package aims to encourage more and more Californians to move into high-rise buildings and abandon their cars for public transit. It comes just when, rather than flocking to mass transit and ride-sharing services, most urban Californians are opting to drive private cars. Fears of contagion on public transit of all kinds stoke this trend, which sees ridership on trains and buses greatly reduced from last year.

None of this is needed. As more and more office space becomes vacant, there’s ever less call for new construction. What’s more, when conversion of office towers to residential use heats up, there will be more new housing than required to fill the state’s needs, estimated at about 3 million new units by 2025.

That timetable, of course, can be met easily by conversions, but not by new construction, which will inevitably be held up by lawsuits and environmental issues.

It adds up to a picture of blinkered, single-minded legislators pursuing old goals with little relevance in the post-pandemic world to come. That’s why the current housing package deserves to disappear, just like Wiener’s past failed efforts to rid California of single-family homes.

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to www.californiafocus.net

Related Posts

Santa Monica Lawmakers Gives Green Light to Pursue Main Street Closures

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

Lawmakers instruct staff to develop proposal that would close Main Street to vehicles on weekends By Sam Catanzaro Portions of...

Venice Bakery’s Cash Registered Stolen

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

A Venice bakery had its cash registered stolen following a smash and grab robbery this week. According to the Los...

Tacos and Ice Cream Highlight New Playa Vista Dining and Retail Center

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

Loqui, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams highlight new complex  By Toi Creel A popular taqueria and ice cream shop highlight a...

Details on Venice Boulevard Mixed-Use Proposal

May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021

More apartments could soon be coming to this lot on Venice Boulevard in Palms. Learn more in this video made...

Venice’s Fox Theater Revamp

May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021

A developer wants to revamp the historic Fox Theater building in Venice. Learn more in this video made possible by...

Edify TV: Site Work Begins on Nearly Billion Dollar LAX Station

May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021

Site work has begun for a nearly billion dollar light rail transit station coming to LAX. Learn more in this...

Edify TV: Concert Capacity Rules Issue for Small Venues

May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021

Live music is back in LA County but the owner of a Westside jazz club says reopening will have to...

Did You Lose Your Ring Near Venice? YO! Venice Show – May, 3, 2021

May 3, 2021

May 3, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Candlelight Vigil Held for Rescue Dog Killed in House Fire *...

Woman Gives Birth on Venice Beach Boardwalk

May 3, 2021

May 3, 2021

LAFD transport mother and newborn to hospital following Sunday birth  By Sam Catanzaro A reported homeless woman gave birth on...

Fire Breaks Out Under 405 Freeway

April 29, 2021

April 29, 2021

LA and Culver fire departments put out Thursday afternoon fire at encampment A fire broke out at the 405 underpass...

Edify TV: Could Penmar Golf Course Become Affordable Housing?

April 29, 2021

April 29, 2021

Under a state bill facilities like Penmar golf course could be converted into space for affordable housing. Learn more in...

Italian-Style Raw Seafood Bar Comes to Main Street

April 29, 2021

April 29, 2021

Crudo e Nudo, a new Italian-style raw seafood bar on the Westside offers sustainably sourced fresh fish, shellfish and crustaceans....

Suspect at Large in Venice Beach Boardwalk Shooting

April 28, 2021

April 28, 2021

One person transported to hospital in stable condition Wednesday morning By Sam Catanzaro A suspect remains at large following a...